Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Of tiger sightings in India

The tiger may be making its last stand in India but the number of tourists for tigers safaris is increasing year by year. Perhaps this signifies the importance of the Bengal tiger in our ecosystem and also in the hearts and mind of the people. Yes people from all over the World express concern for the endangered animal.

Tiger is a shy and secretive animal. Well most of the time! Tourism has made it possible to see the tiger in the wild for common tourists. During the British Raj, tiger and tiger hunting was the prerogative of the Maharajas and  the Lords.

Timely conservation of the species resulted in the animal coming back from sure shot extinction, but the tiger is in no less danger now. This is due to demand for tiger parts in China and other Asian Nations. It will take lot of hue and cry for the Chinese system of medicine to stop the use of tiger parts in their concoctions.

The rush to see the tiger is seen more in popular National Parks like Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench in Madhya  Pradesh or Central India. The tiger population in these parks is steadily increasing thanks to active conservation measures. The core zones especially the grassy meadows are an ideal habitat for tigers to hunt their prey base. The spotted deer and sambar deer make up the major diet of the tiger. Tiger eats anything that moves except humans. But humans kill the animal with impunity and greed not even expressed by cannibals.        

The tiger parks have well laid tourism infrastructure outside and road network inside the core zones for wildlife watching on jeep safaris. The tiger is often seen on open grasslands and jungle roads on a tiger safari in the park. The wildlife safari begins at dawn and ends by noon. The second round begins around 3 pm and ends by  dusk.

On a safari inside the parks one can see the tiger, leopard, spotted deer, sambar, Hanuman langur, wild boar, wild dog, sloth bear, barking deer and jackal. These reserves are exciting birding  spots as well, and one can enjoy bird watching while trekking tigers in the forests.    

At Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Pench tiger sighting takes place at least once in three days so it is worth staying for three nights to get a holistic experience of the wildlife parks.

The tiger safaris are arranged by package tour operators who offer a complete jungle package which includes accommodation, food and room stay. The tour packages also includes excursions in the park. The best package tour operators offer stay in luxury hotels and travel by luxury cars. The cost is bit more for wildlife watching but it is worthwhile to travel and stay in luxury in wilderness areas. 

There is enough room for budget travelers who prefer traveling by bus and stay at budget hotels around the tiger reserves. A three day safari is ideal for sighting tigers in the wild at these parks. Since if tiger sightings does not take place on jeep safari the tiger shows on elephant back will offer the tourist tiger sighting at close range.